The Revolt Against Feminism

A new word is entering the political vocabulary. It's "backlash"--and it's being popularized in a new book currently climbing the best-seller lists entitled Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women. This "undeclared war," says the author, Susan Faludi, is being waged through the invention of a myth: the myth that feminism has failed. As Faludi sees it, everywhere--from Hollywood to Madison Avenue to the nightly news--people are conspiring to make women believe that feminism is dead, to drive women out of the work place and back into the kitchen. Well, Faludi is right in saying there's a trend--but she's interpreting it all wrong. It is women who are moving away from ideological feminism. They are rethinking the knee-jerk commitment to outside careers. A poll by Time and CNN finds that 63% percent of women today do not consider themselves feminists. Faludi would have us think this is all due to an ugly, coercive backlash, concocted by reactionary forces to keep women subordinate. Faludi, who is not married and has never had any children, can't conceive that intelligent, adult women would actually choose to spend a major portion of their lives caring for children and creating a rich family life. It must be some outside conspiracy. But the idea of a backlash is contradicted by the enormous attention Faludi's own book is getting. The news magazines are fawning all over her--culminating in a cover story recently in Time magazine. No signs of a backlash here. No, the turn away from feminism isn't being concocted by outside forces. It's a change welling up from within the minds and hearts of women themselves. And it's happening even within the feminist movement itself. Betty Friedan, who helped launch the movement with her book The Feminine Mystique, later wrote The Second Stage, where she worried that feminists had denied the importance of family life. Germaine Greer, who condemned marriage and motherhood in her book The Female Eunuch, later wrote Sex and Destiny, which celebrated children and family. And just weeks ago, reporter and novelist Sally Quinn rocked the readership of the Washington Post with a biting critique of feminism. No, it's not just so-called reactionaries who are critical of feminism. Even women weaned on feminist ideology are rethinking their views. What's really happened is quite simple: The Baby Boomers are having babies. They've reached their mid-thirties and are raising families of their own. And that's changing their values and perspectives. Listen to the poignant story told by feminist Erica Jong. Shortly after she had her first baby, Jong was invited to a poetry reading. It was her first public appearance after giving birth, and Jong decided to read several poems expressing the deep feelings she experienced in becoming a mother. The audience of radical feminist booed her off the stage. Jong was devastated. She now writes articles saying feminism has failed because it ignores the central fact in the lives of 90 percent of American women: the fact that they have babies. And they resent being made to feel guilty about it. Faludi is wrong. There's no outside conspiracy. Just a spontaneous change as a generation of men and women, made in the image of God, grow up and discover the normal joys of family and children.


Chuck Colson


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